The history of domestic cats is unclear and has numerous theories surrounding it. One of the popular beliefs is that cats originated from Egypt about 4000 years ago. However, recent findings showed that cats existed before the 4000-year mark after a cat’s remains were found in a Neolithic grave in Cyprus.
Common belief states that domestic cats arrived in Europe 3000 years ago, courtesy of the Roman traders. Romans had discovered that cats were great at pest control and valued this precious attribute. It is these cats that eventually bred and acclimatized themselves into the modern cats of today.
Cats have endured wild accusations over the years. Around the beginning of the 14th century, rumors began circulating, linking cats to witchcraft. This misconceived belief led to a devastating massacre of cats that was later linked to the increased spread of the bubonic plague thanks to the increase in the rodent population. Fortunately, cats gained popularity once again, and by the 16th century, traders introduced them to other parts of the world, including the US.
Today, almost every household in the UK owns a cat. There are more than 10 million cats, with 24% of the UK adult population owning cats. Cats rank a close second place after dogs when it comes to the popularity scale. So what makes cats such favorable pets? Here are some of the reasons:
- Your home is guaranteed to be pest-free as cats often channel their hunting instincts.
- Cats are ideal pets for people living in apartments as they are both small in size and less noisy.
- Research shows that exposing your children to cats from a young age is likely to reduce their risks of allergies.
- Cats are low maintenance pets as they require minimal grooming and also consume much less food.
- Most cats are highly independent and can be left to their own devices for more extended periods.
- Cats, especially at the kitten stage, are very playful and affectionate, making them the perfect addition to a household with children.
- Cats are also highly intelligent and learn very fast from their mistakes.
The Most Popular UK Cat Breeds
While most pet lovers in the UK are dog owners, researchers found that this trend was different in London. To be precise, the research revealed that 61% of pet owners in the city were cat owners. Given that cats are independent, low-maintenance, and adapt very well to apartment life, it comes as no surprise why the city dwellers prefer them. We’re going to delve into some of the most popular breeds in the UK below.
Domestic Moggie Cats
Moggie cats, also called Moggies, are cats whose origins are either mixed or unknown. They are some of the most common non-pedigree domesticated cats and come into two distinct categories: Domestic Longhair and Domestic Shorthair. Owing to their mixed origins, Moggies come in different coat patterns and colors, including grey, grey and white, brown and silver, black and white, ginger and white, among other varieties. Their body structure also varies from one cat to the next.
Shorthair cats are more common than Longhairs since the latter have a recessive gene. Moggie cats’ character traits are also very different from each other. Some are very playful and social, while others tend to be quite shy. These mixed breed cats also have a significant advantage over pedigree cats: they are often much healthier and have a lifespan of up to 20 years. Despite all their positive attributes, you are likely to find so many Moggies abandoned in rescue centers near you.
British Shorthair Cats
These cats are the pedigree version of the Domestic Shorthairs. Their solid body frames and luxuriously dense fur coats contribute significantly to their popularity. Although they come in varying patterns and colors, the most commonly found variety is the British Blue cat, which has a solid grey-blue coat, copper eyes, and a medium tail.
When it comes to their personality, British Shorthairs are mostly easy-going and affectionate, while others may come off as shy. Thanks to their calm characters, they make great family companions and get along with other pets when socialized early enough. British Shorthairs are also intelligent and enjoy exploring their environments. Despite their curious nature, do not expect them to join you in energetic activities. They much rather prefer quiet households.
As with most purebred animals, British Shorthairs are prone to a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and kidney diseases. They have an average lifespan of 12.5 years. Relevant authorities even set rules requiring breeders to test their cats specifically for heart problems. As a fur parent, you should get a clean bill of health certificate from the breeder before purchasing. The signs to look out for when it comes to HCM include swelling of your feline’s legs and shortness of breath.
Although Bengal cats rank high on the feline popularity scale, they were only recently accepted in the UK. The first impression you will have when you meet Bengal cats is that they have a somewhat “wild” look. This “wild” trait owes to the fact that they are a crossbreed between the Asian leopard cat and domestic tabbies. They are generally large and muscular, with their hindquarters at a slightly higher level than their shoulders.
Bengals’ coats come in two acceptable patterns: spotted and marble. As for color, only three varieties are acceptable: brown, silver, and snow. However, these color varieties come in different color spectrums, some of them include sandy brown for the brown type and seal mink for the snow variety.
Not only are Bengal cats beautiful, but they are also generally loving and loyal, making them a great addition to any household. Owing to their wild origins, they are highly intelligent and are very adaptable. They also very social and interact well with other pets. Contrary to most cats, Bengals don’t enjoy being left alone for long periods. If you are often busy and work in a conventional office, it might be best for you to get your furry friend a companion.
Bengals are a reasonably healthy breed with a lifespan of up to 16 years. They enjoy playtime and are best suited for energetic owners. Most Bengals maintain their high spirits even in their old age, making them the perfect addition to a household with young children.
Maine Coon Cats
Another favorite cat in the UK is the Maine Coon. They are one of the larger cat breeds and have even larger personalities to match their size. Some breeders have even gone as far as to call them “gentle giants” as they are very loving and affectionate towards both humans and other pets.
Maine Coons are purebred cats that first arrived in Britain in 1984. They first made their debut as working cats in the rural areas hence their rugged coat appearance. Modern Maine Coons are brilliant, and you can train them to play fetch games. However, just like Bengals, they also don’t cope well alone and prefer to have constant companionship.
As is typical with purebred cats, Maine Coons are also susceptible to heart diseases. Their life expectancy is similar to British Shorthairs and averages at 12.5 years.
Other popular breeds that you should look out for include:
- Persian cats
- Russian Blue
- Scottish Fold
- Siamese cats
Like most pets, cats’ personalities will vary from one to the next. Creating a great bond between you and your pet from the onset is bound to make them warm up to you. Despite common belief about their independent personalities, cats enjoy companionship and cuddles. If you’re looking to become a feline parent, you should probably adopt one from a local animal shelter near you.